The Crown Poker Room was a hub of activity this afternoon as the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne Main Event kicked off with a healthy field of 310 entrants. There were a host of locals, nearly 100 PokerStars online qualifiers and a sprinkling of International flavour with Hong Kong's David Steicke, the United Kingdom's Harry Demetriou and PokerStars Team Asia Pro Celina Lin some of the high-profile entrants.
While Demetriou snuck through to see Day 2, unfortunately for Steicke and Lin, their days were not as fruitful. The eccentric Steicke fell when he three-bet shoved with a dominated ace while Lin was chipping up nicely until a cooler flop saw her ace-queen cracked on a queen-high flop by John Apostolidis' flopped two pair.
Others amongst today's starters included Bruno Portaro, Josh Barrett, Liam Moffett, Liam O'Rourke, Sam Khouiss, Lee Nelson, Peter Aristidou, Jeff Rossiter, Jackie Glazier, Julian Powell, Benn Skender, Billy Jordanou, Aaron Benton, Ben Delaney, James Broom, Brendon Rubie, Jai Kemp, Jesse McKenzie, Tom Grigg, Paul Khoury, Ricky Kroesen, ANZPT Sydney champion Michael Kanaan, ANZPT Adelaide winner Octavian Voegele, ANZ POTY leader Leo Boxell and the defending champion Martin Kozlov.
Kozlov couldn't get anything going and struggled on the short stack before falling late in the day, while Boxell was another to be eliminated post-dinner. His elimination opens up the Player of the Year race, with the second-placed Jesse McKenzie making it through the day with a big stack.
Ben Gilholme, ANZPT Gold Coast champion Peter Matusik, Julius Colman, Tom Grigg and John Apostolidis all had moments at the top of the leaderboard, with Apostolidis at one point cracking the 200,000-chip barrier within sight of the end of the day. But he slipped back late, as PokerStars qualifier Ryan Hong snuck under the radar to pinch the lead in the dying moments of play.
Top Ten Chip Counts
Ryan Hong (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 178,800
John Apostolidis (Australia) - 140,300
Ryan Larkin (Australia) - 127,100
Jesse McKenzie (Australia) - 124,700
Stephen Eliesen (Australia) - 117,100
Jarred Graham (Australia) - 115,400
Leigh Warne (Australia) - 113,200
Peng Khoo (Australia) - 107,200
Mario Ljubicic (Australia) - 106,700
Justin Sanchez (Australia) - 100,500
113 players will return tomorrow and will include the likes of Phil Willcocks, Tom Grigg, Aaron Benton, Nali Kaselias, Julius Colman, Lee Nelson, Daniel Laidlaw, Tom Wing, Peter Matusik, Hugh Cohen, Josh Budin, Julian Cohen, Paul Ravesi and Paul Khoury.
Play will recommence at 12:10pm (GMT+10) with all the live updates brought to you exclusively on the PokerStars Blog. Enjoy your Saturday night and we look forward to your company again tomorrow.